June 24, 2011

EPA learns that actions have consequences

By EPA learns that actions have consequences

Author: Reed Hopper

In May, I testified to a House of Representatives committee on EPA abuse of power under the Clean Water Act.  The hearing was convened to address EPA's unprecedented and unjustified revocation of a disharge permit for the Mingo Logan mine in West Virginia three years after it was issued, after ten years of environmental review, and with prior EPA approval.  The revocation was undertaken while the mine was in full compliance with the permit, with no change of circumstances, and over the objections of the Corps of Engineers and the State.  The EPA has arrogantly defended this action claiming it has authority under the Clean Water Act to revoke such discharge permits at will.  This was the first time in the history of the Act the agency claimed such authority and its impact on industry is incalculable. 

The mine spent millions to obtain and comply with the permit and now the EPA is asserting no discharge permit is ever final because the EPA may choose to revoke it at any time in the future.  Such discharge permits are issued by the tens of thousands annually across the country for small and large projects alike.  But now each of those permits is at risk.  This is the very definition of arbitrary government. 

In response to the EPA's action, the House of Representatives is considering a bill (H.R. 2018) that prevents the EPA from acting unilateraly to change discharge standards it has already approved.  This is necessary to affirm the "Rule of Law" in Clean Water Act enforcement.  But the EPA is screaming "bloody murder" claiming the new bill will turn the Act on its head.  This is a classic example of "the pot calling the kettle black."  It was the EPA that turned the Act on its head with its blatant abuse of power.  It is now reaping the consequences of its heavy-handed actions.       

For further details, see the Greenwire piece here.

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